On Friday 10 April ellenor staff and volunteers gathered at the Hospice in Gravesend in numbers, to send Margaret-Mary Cowan off with our best wishes at a special farewell tea party.
CEO Claire Cardy clutched at her packet of tissues ready for her speech, joking that she didn't think she'd be able to make it through without them. More than a few tears and sniffles escaped from the listeners in the room, both old and new, and from across many departments in the organisation - a testament, Claire noted, to the impact Margaret-Mary's time with ellenor has made.
Claire concluded her heartfelt speech with a sentiment shared by Margaret-Mary's colleagues; "We can't imagine our organisation without you", before presenting a card filled with goodbye messages and kind wishes for the future, as Margaret-Mary departs to return home to Scotland.
Well-wishers were then treated to a farewell gift of their own, when Margaret-Mary surprised us with a reading of the poignant poem she had penned. Guests were taken on a journey packed with history, detailing Margaret-Mary's significant roles in her 17 years, and the colleagues she has worked with along the way. A few playful Scottish colloquialisms were also thrown in for good measure, which Margaret-Mary helpfully translated for the crowd through tears and chuckles.
You can read Margaret-Mary's composition for yourself, as she has kindly agreed to share.
'16 years ago the Cowans trundled down
from sunny Balivanich a Hebridean town.
to continue my studies a hospice had to be found
and there it was - the ellenor, zounds abound.
It was to Conifers that I arrived
a respite nurse was the role to which I strived
Mary Harris and her team taught me all I know
good friends then and some still on the go.
The sharp end of respite was learned
five star houses to some butt and Ben's
One thing in common and without hesitation
ellenor cared no matter what location.
My studies suggested I needed to diversify
to DVH it was suggested I cast an eye
the MDT and Dr Mary
the deal was sealed and it was all a bit hairy
Two happy years spent with all things acute
from Rosewood to Juniper and all trees to boot
death is inevitable but many a fight was fought
allow a natural death I'd say - not on my watch (said the haematologists)
The community was calling so to Dartford I went
to Bean and Temple Hill many hours were spent.
the team were fantastic there were many of us there
with Tricia at the helm, all was fair and square
After this the Ellenor wanderer was born
Sent to North and South Bexley whenever Steph was torn
A bank CNS which was perfect for me
to head back to Scotland for the school ‘holideees’
So to Gravesend where I would remain
under Kay our lead nurse a joy we proclaim
sunny Longfield my patch, a challenge I relished
although sometimes navigating New Ash Green was hellish
In 2009 a reshuffle was proposed
one homecare team across the patch was what was diagnosed
a new job for MM
and back to university was the stratagem
The last 6 years have gone in a flash
Clinics and visits oh it's been a bash
the study of Sikh carers was a labour of love
this work goes on thanks to Him up above
So 2015 takes the Cowans to pastures new
back to South Glasgow where the sky is never blue
but the pull of family is a tug very strong
and as you know we've been away too long
This is my turn to thank those who have helped along the way
too many to mention or we would be here all day
ellenor to EllenorLions; a full circle just as I depart
ellenor I thank you from the bottom of my heart.'
To Margaret-Mary, we say "Haste ye back!" - and "Farewell, but not goodbye".
Thank you for everything, you will be dearly missed. x